Forest Green chairman Dale Vince believes David Hockaday deserves his chance after being controversially installed as the new head coach at Leeds.
Hockaday, 56, was Leeds president Massimo Cellino’s surprise choice to succeed Brian McDermott and the appointment has angered the majority of the club’s fans who demanded a bigger name to take on the new role.
But Vince, who worked closely with former Watford and Southampton coach Hockaday during his time in charge at Forest Green – his only managerial job – said he has all the right attributes to prove his critics wrong.
“I’m really pleased for David actually, I’m chuffed for him,” Vince said.
“He’s a great bloke. He’s a very hard-working, loyal and honest man with an unbelievable depth of footballing knowledge.
“I really want him to succeed, but would not dare to predict how it will work out for him.
“Massimo Cellino is a lot better qualified than me to make a judgement on whether David can be successful in the Championship, but he deserves his chance.”
Hockaday parted company with Forest Green by mutual consent last October following a run of seven defeats in eight games. Both parties bowed to fans’ pressure, but Vince maintains a close friendship with the former Blackpool and Swindon defender.
Vince added: “His experience in the game, at all levels, makes him an ideal candidate for anybody and he’s so determined to succeed. It’s interesting to see he has taken up a head coach role at Leeds rather than becoming the manager.
“Cellino will take all the pressure off him with regards to recruitment and other managerial duties and that lends itself to David’s strengths.
“We formed a friendship during his time at Forest Green and I’ve spoken to him to wish him luck. Cellino appears to be a very interesting character and he made a good point that everyone has to start somewhere.
“I’m not sure about his analogy about managers being like watermelons though.
“He said you can’t tell what they’re like until you open them, but you can tap a watermelon to find out exactly what they’re like before you do that!”